Did you know that travel insurance claims can go up to six figures? 

From common claims for travel inconveniences such as baggage loss or delay, travel delay or misconnection, to medical emergencies, travelling overseas (as an individual and/or family) possesses a certain amount of risk. 

We must safeguard our family, young and old. 

To do so, we need to understand what’s available in the market, especially since there are more than 20 insurers in Singapore. We also have to understand the fine print in order to receive sufficient protection. 

Today, we have the General Insurance Association of Singapore (GIA) sharing more about how we should go about choosing a suitable travel insurance plan. 

What are the different types of travel insurance?

ACE Maker Parenting_Safeguard Your Family Overseas With Travel Insurance
Photo: Unsplash (Swansway Motor Group)

There are many different types, and most travel insurance policies cover financial losses arising from trip cancellations, medical emergencies, lost baggage, and personal liability. 

These policies include: 

  1. Overseas Medical Expenses: Most travel insurance policies provide coverage for medical expenses incurred while travelling. This is crucial as healthcare costs can be substantial in foreign countries. 
  2. Emergency Medical Evacuation and Repatriation: In cases of serious illness or injury where appropriate medical treatment isn’t available locally, travel insurance policies often cover the cost of medical evacuation to a facility equipped to handle the condition, or repatriation back to Singapore. 
  3. COVID-19 Related Expenses: Given the ongoing pandemic, most travel insurance policies now include coverage for COVID-19-related expenses. This encompasses overseas medical expenses related to COVID-19, emergency medical evacuation or repatriation due to COVID-19, hospital and quarantine allowances, trip cancellation or curtailment if you or your travel partner contract COVID-19, and post-trip medical expenses for a specified duration after returning to Singapore.
  4. Adventure Tourism Insurance: For those engaging in adventure tourism, which includes activities like skiing, mountain climbing, or scuba diving, it’s essential to choose a travel insurance policy that specifically covers these high-risk activities. Regular travel insurance policies may not cover accidents or incidents occurring during such activities, so it’s important to opt for a plan that caters to the unique risks of adventure tourism.
  5. 24/7 Worldwide Emergency Assistance: Most insurers provide around-the-clock global emergency assistance as part of their travel insurance packages. This service can be invaluable during emergencies, offering travellers immediate help and guidance, from medical assistance to support in case of lost passports or other travel-related issues.

How to choose a plan?

A basic travel insurance policy should cover you for general travel inconveniences that may arise regardless of your itinerary. For example,

  1. Missing baggage/baggage delays
  2. Travel delays
  3. Overseas medical expenses, evacuation or repatriation
  4. Trip cancellations or postponements
  5. Insolvency protection should your travel agency go bust before your trip
  6. Theft of or damage to your personal belongings

However, it’s important to consider not just basic coverage but also specific needs based on your travel plans, including potential medical emergencies, adventure activities, and the current pandemic situation, which can and do go to six figures. 

Several media reports have highlighted travellers who faced hefty bills and had to raise money through crowdfunding. Given that most individuals do not have the emergency funds of this amount to fund such large emergency expenses, travel insurance is a safeguard against such unexpected situations. 

It is crucial to ensure proper travel insurance coverage when travelling overseas, even if it’s a short trip to a nearby country. 

Hence, the best policy is one that adequately covers you for your protection needs. As everyone’s needs and travel itinerary differ, it is important to consider your needs before looking for a policy when shopping for travel insurance.

Here are four questions to ask yourself to find out whether your policy is sufficient: 

  1. If you have pre-existing illnesses
  2. If you are travelling to or through some countries that are excluded from cover
  3. If you intend to do hazardous activities
  4. If you are going to drive a rental vehicle

Also, it is always important to understand your policy terms and conditions as well as exclusions.

Do you have pre-existing conditions?

Not all travel insurance policies cover pre-existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. If you or your loved ones have pre-existing medical conditions, you are advised to look for suitable policies that provide coverage for these conditions.

Travel policies that cover pre-existing medical conditions typically include coverage for overseas medical expenses, hospitalisation cash and emergency medical evacuation costs that may arise during travel relating to the traveller’s pre-existing medical condition. 

Depending on the policy, however, other benefits such as trip cancellation because of the traveller’s medical condition may not apply. 

This means that should your loved one have to visit the hospital because of his / her diabetic condition before the trip and have to cancel, he/she may not be able to make a claim. 

Travellers who require more coverage can also purchase personal accident insurance to supplement their travel insurance benefits.

Failing to declare existing medical conditions when purchasing travel insurance can lead to the insurer rejecting the claims made. 

Taking care of the young and old 

When bringing your family overseas, you should take extra considerations. 

Some insurers provide a lower medical coverage limit for travel insurance policies for seniors over 70 years old. 

For instance, if you’re travelling to a long-haul destination or a destination where medical services are not easily accessible, you might want to consider purchasing a policy that offers higher medical coverage, emergency evacuation and repatriation benefits for your elderly loved one, in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

Furthermore, do consider their specific health needs, and ensure that even their pre-existing medical conditions are fully covered by the policy. 

For your children, here are several factors to consider: 

  1. Child’s age: Some insurers may require the child to be of a minimum age before purchasing a standalone travel insurance policy. Therefore, it is important to check before deciding whether to purchase a single-trip plan or family coverage. On the other hand, some family travel policies may also have an age limit. So it is important to check that your child falls within this limit to be covered as well.
  2. Cover limit and exclusions: Should you decide to purchase family cover, it is important to check the cover limit and exclusions. For some policies, there may be a maximum claimable benefit across all individuals covered under the plan. Your child may also not be covered for everything that you’re covered for. For some policies, there may be separate coverage benefits for adults and children under a single policy. When it comes to family travel insurance policies do look out for also family-oriented benefits that may come in useful, such as childminder benefits. This covers when the child’s accompanying adult becomes seriously ill or injured abroad and this coverage includes taking care of the child to ensure that they are safely returned home or looked after by a caregiver.
  3. Pre-existing medical conditions: Should your child have any pre-existing medical condition; it is advisable to check that the policy provides the cover. Travel policies that cover these conditions will allow you to make claims should complications arise from your child’s condition while overseas. For instance, if he/she suffers from an asthma attack and has to be hospitalised while travelling, you will be able to claim for overseas medical expenses arising from this.
  4. Nature of activities: If your child is thinking of engaging in adventurous activities such as white-water rafting, canoeing or rock climbing, it is advisable to check that your child’s travel policy provides cover under medical expenses, accidental death and permanent disability. 

Extra protection needed for high-risk activities 

If you are looking to engage in higher-risk activities or adventure sports, you should ensure that you have purchased the extended cover. 

Families are encouraged to consider if purchasing individual policies would be more feasible should not all members of the family like to engage in higher-risk activities.

In addition, travellers are encouraged to purchase policies that cover personal liability relating to these higher-risk activities in case of any injury or damage you cause to others as these may also add up to substantial amounts.

Does your travel insurance still cover upon returning to Singapore?  

If you fall sick after returning to Singapore due to injury or illness sustained while overseas, such as food poisoning, your travel insurance policy will generally cover you for post-trip medical expenses, up to a certain period of time after you return to Singapore. 

Additionally, if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 within a specified period after returning to Singapore, most travel insurance policies provide coverage for related medical expenses. It’s important to check your specific policy for details on coverage duration and conditions related to post-trip illnesses.

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